Trainhoppers in Del Rio, TX


Seeking solace from a long, long drive across West Texas, our Bus came full up and into the strippy mall that is Del Rio, Texas. Initially, we had planned to Bus it up at an RV park I had stayed at here in town on some past galavant, knowing that it had a bar (the Buzzard’s Roost, how can you beat that name?) on grounds, but major renovations were happening and so we continued down the road looking for a place we could call a patch of our own grass for at least the afternoon. Deputy needed to run. Tristan needed to run, and the Lady and I at least needed to get out of the cockpit for awhile. Turning to the typically trusty Google Maps, we first set out to find a cafe where we could proceed henceforth to find ourselves a park to lolligag about. Del Rio, friends, is not the type of Texico border town that is going to jump at the chance to provide you a plethora of options when it comes to coffee. The Lady, in particular, was looking for an iced chai — a delicacy she had come to crave in perhaps the one part of America where Starbucks was not a household name, let alone little local coffee shops — but all we could find were a few coffee and donut places, all of which were wrapping it up for the day by the time we were interested in just getting started.

So it was that we found ourselves heading to the park sans a caffeinated fix, the Bus pulling her hard time through the sun, Deputy barking out the window at every passing car and a general state of defeat permeating the hollows of her majesty, VW.

Until we got to the park. A bright green stretch of grass growing in the middle of this sweltering nowhereland, a creek flowing through it, other wanderers out with their dogs (a German shepherd was leaving as ours was just getting out of the Bus) and a pavilion full of traveling warrior types sipping cans of beer about 50 feet from where the Lady set up our picnic. She laid out one of our many blankets, an orange and white afghan of a picnic blanket, oranges stacked in the corner and went Indian style as she began to read further into her latest book. Deputy took off to play with another dog in the park, belonging to the travelers at the pavilion, and I rested my head for a smoke in her lap.

The hour played on. Tristan, with his own version of reckless abandon, prodded sticks into the creek bed and ran full force back and forth from the Bus to our corner of the park. Deputy managed to lure the travelers over our way, first a young girl with torn up, post-punker clothing and short hair, a large knife brandished shining from her belt and resting under her right arm. The other dog, a little white pit bull type of a mutt, was hers and she recounted how she’d found him in a train yard and yes, it was harder hopping trains with a puppy, but she couldn’t just leave him there out in the rain and now they’re like true companions and then of her exploits with her boyfriend, a young man himself, wearing overalls and an old thyme conductor’s hat, who brought us over and offered up a beer, which I didn’t take both because I guess I’m a little snobby when it comes to Milwaukee’s Best and also because they didn’t look like they had a ton of money, so I figured I’d let them enjoy their own beers. I immediately regretted it. It is probably quite rude to turn down a beer. If ever offered an alcoholic drink by a fellow on the wayward, always take it.

Still, we talked for awhile about where they’d been, where we were going, families and dogs on the road. Then, as the trainhoppers headed back to their pavilion to roll doobies and hang with the local homeless population, I packed up our picnic and we headed out to find some food, the Lady picking up a dead fish laying on the riverbank and began chasing the boy around with it like an underwater bully. The days are growing so beautiful along the Rio Grande.